McColl's drivers guaranteed B-double rates

Commission orders McColl's to pay truck drivers at B-double rates even if they are behind the wheel of a semi-trailer

McColl's drivers guaranteed B-double rates
McColl's drivers guaranteed B-double rates
By Brad Gardner | December 21, 2012

McColl’s Transport has been ordered to pay its multi-combination licensed drivers at B-double rates even if they are behind the wheel of a semi-trailer.

The New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission ruled that drivers in the state should not be paid separate rates when switching between the vehicle combinations.

McColl’s introduced multiple hourly rates in October 2010, ending a practice where drivers were paid at the B-double rate of $20.99 (Grade 8) as long as they had an MC licence.

The company argued the flat payment was a mistake of lower management. It began paying its drivers $19.81 per hour (Grade 6) for semi-trailer work, but the commission ruled that the 2010 change denied drivers a permanent minimum wage.

"What is guaranteed on the Respondent’s [McColl’s] case is that the Grade 8 wage minimum would not always be met because the Respondent would have (and now puts into effect) fluctuating minimum payments," Commissioner Alastair Macdonald’s written judgment says.

"That fluctuating cycle of minimum payments goes against the understood industrial awareness of a guaranteed minimum payment from one pay cycle to the next."

Macdonald also found the company’s actions clashed with the industrial agreement covering the NSW drivers in 2007, the Pure Logistics Pty Ltd Union Collective Agreement, NSW Operations and the agreement that superseded it, the McColls’ Group Holdings Pty Ltd NSW Collective Agreement Bulk Food and Bulk Chemical 2011-2014.

"The 2007 Agreement does not speak of the Respondent’s legal right to multi-classify drivers on the basis of the type of vehicle driven," he says.

"The 2011 Agreement as a whole has no provision for the multi-classification of a driver."

The NSW Transport Workers Union took McColl’s to the commission, arguing the company gave it a commitment to apply the same rate for B-double and semi-trailer work.

"The representation was that the Grade 8 rate would apply irrespective of whether driving a B-double or single trailer," the TWU told the commission.

McColl’s argued drivers had a "mistaken understanding" they were entitled to B-double rates and that it did not make sense for the business to pay a driver at a higher rate when they were operating a semi-trailer.

McColl’s says NSW management’s decision to introduce the flat payment was at odds with the company’s remuneration policy in other areas. McColl’s noticed the payment during a national payroll audit of its operations.

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